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Angels' defining moments10/03/2004 10:04 PM ET
First place: The Angels took over first place for good on Oct. 2 with a 5-4 win over Oakland. The win gave the Angels a 92-69 record.
Offseason moment: The signing of Vladimir Guerrero to a five-year, $70 million contract. The Angels had already improved their starting pitching with Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar, prompting general manager Bill Stoneman to say, "The Brinks' truck has left town." But once new owner Arte Moreno saw the 25th-hour opportunity to nail down one of baseball's premier players, he jumped at the chance, saying he couldn't look his fans in the eye if he didn't get Guerrero when given the chance. The payroll jumped, but so did attendance, and Guerrero's MVP-type year and unbelievable stretch drive powered the team into the playoffs.In-season moment: The suspension of outfielder Jose Guillen for conduct detrimental to the team concept on which the Angels are built. It probably hurt the Angels from a pure numbers standpoint, because Guillen was the second-best run producer. But by sending a message throughout the organization that insubordination to the manager will not be tolerated, the Angels got another example of how important the notion of a team truly is. It might have been a coincidence, but the team started playing its best baseball of the season as soon as Guillen left the picture. Game: Troy Glaus' 11th-inning home run off Francisco Cordero in Texas on Sept. 29 gave the Angels their first division lead in 100 games. The Angels tied the game in the ninth when Guerrero singled with two outs and bench player Curtis Pride tied the game with a double. Cordero, one of the best closers in baseball this year, stayed in the game until the 11th, when Glaus homered to center -- the only homer off Cordero all year -- to win it. Not only did the Angels jump to the top of the division with only four games left in the season, but Glaus made a statement after missing four months because of shoulder surgery and saying he'd be back to help the team into the playoffs. MVP: Guerrero, and he might very well be the American League MVP, too. Guerrero had his usual year at the plate, with gaudy statistics, and he impressed in right field, with his usual arsenal of running catches and cannon throws to the plate for assists. But Guerrero's true value to the team was most obvious in the last weeks of the season, when he took the banged-up team on his back with six homers and 11 RBIs in the pivotal seven games that decided the division.
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